Homework. You either love it or you hate it. Most students you talk to hate it.
Avid readers of this blog will already know my views of homework for middle school students. If it is Relevant, Interesting and Personal then there’s a good argument for it. If it’s Boring, Repetitive and Impersonal then it can be painful and probably is not helpful to your child. (Not just my opinion. See Alfie Kohn, Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish and others)
Here’s an activity you can try at home with your child which is Relevant, Interesting and Personal and it’s not homework. It’s called cooking. Yes cooking. Usually the role of the parent is to provide meals for their hungry teenagers, how about encouraging them to take part in the process?
The process of cooking uses some of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and can lead to many of the components encouraged in an inquiry based education programme.
Start with a recipe. Ask your son or daughter to look at the recipe, get the ingredients together and follow a process. This will presumably involve measuring, weighing, and mixing. It may also involve converting. Whilst doing this, you can be talking to him about nutrition and diet etc.
Laying the table and coming together to eat is also an important part of the process.
As your son or daughter becomes more used to the idea of maybe cooking once a week or fortnight, why not then introduce the design cycle into the process?
Look in your fridge and investigate what you have in terms of ingredients. Design a meal for the family. Plan the process, create the meal and then, very importantly evaluate the meal!
Now what better way to spend a chunk of the evening with your children? Admittedly you might get some resistance to the idea at first, but I bet they’ll end up enjoying being sociable and learning at the same time!